Eruvin 13b

“The bat kol emerged and said, “Both these and these are the words of the Living God…”

The bat kol is a beautiful mystical image for the voice of God, the voice of the God that is yearning to live in our midst.

What happened that this bat kol  emerged?

It’s that for three years the Academies of Shammai and Hillel disagreed. For three years they stayed in relationship. For three years they stayed in the disagreement and looked deeply with curiosity about each other’s positions. The Academy of Hillel even

“taught  their own perspective as well as the perspective of the Academy of Shammai. Not only for that, but they even gave precedence to the perspective of the Academy of Shammai before their own perspective.”

There was no killing even in the mind, in the very formation of the ideas, of the Academy of Hillel.

Non-harming begins with our thinking. Non-harming begins with the very formation of our perceptions. A dispute for the sake of Heaven will endure  when the very foundations of the dispute are grounded in the values of openness, connection and seeing the humanity of everyone.

Roberta Wall is the author of the forthcoming book, the Torah of Communication, based on her deep love of Torah and her experiences with Nonviolent Communication between Jews, Palestinians and others in Israel and the West Bank. Her website is www.stepstopeace.com